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Use of Quantitative Molecular Diagnostic Assays to Investigate Fusarium Dry Rot in Potato Stocks and Soil

December 2005 , Volume 95 , Number  12
Pages  1,462 - 1,471

D. W. Cullen , I. K. Toth , Y. Pitkin , N. Boonham , K. Walsh , I. Barker , and A. K. Lees

First, second, third, and seventh authors: Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, Scotland, DD2 5DA, UK; and fourth, fifth, and sixth authors: Central Science Laboratory, DEFRA, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ, England, UK

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Accepted for publication 27 July 2005.

Specific and sensitive quantitative diagnostics, based on real-time (TaqMan) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and PCR enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, were developed to detect dry-rot-causing Fusarium spp. (F. avenaceum, F. coeruleum, F. culmorum, and F. sulphureum). Each assay detected Fusarium spp. on potato seed stocks with equal efficiency. Four potato stocks, sampled over two seed generations from Scottish stores, were contaminated with F. avenaceum, F. sulphureum, F. culmorum, F. coeruleum or a combination of species, and there was a general trend towards increased Fusarium spp. contamination in the second generation of seed sampled. F. sulphureum and F. coeruleum caused significantly (P < 0.05) more disease in storage than the other species when disease-free tubers of potato cvs. Spunta and Morene were inoculated at a range of inoculum concentrations (0, 104, 105, and 106 conidia/ml). Increased DNA levels were correlated with increased disease severity between 8 and 12 weeks of storage. The threshold inoculum levels resulting in significant disease development on both cultivars were estimated to be 104 conidia/ml for F. sulphureum and 105 conidia/ml for F. coeruleum. To study the effect of soil infestation and harvest date on disease incidence, seed tubers of cvs. Morene and Spunta were planted in a field plot artificially infested with the four Fusarium spp. F. culmorum and F. sulphureum were detected in soil taken from these plots at harvest, and F. sulphureum DNA levels increased significantly (P < 0.05) at the final harvest. All four Fusarium spp. were detected in progeny tubers. There was a trend toward higher levels of F. culmorum detected in progeny tubers at the earliest harvest date, and higher levels of F. sulphureum at the final harvest. The use of diagnostic assays to detect fungal storage rot pathogens and implications for disease control strategies are discussed.

Additional keyword: pathogenicity .

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society